There has been an influx of celebrity interviews in the past week that discuss, even focus on, their struggles with anxiety and other mental health issues.
Chris Evans, Kristen Bell, and Colton Haynes are among those who have recently given candid answers to questions about their anxiety, perhaps in an effort to break the stigma against those with mental health problems in this country (and around the world).
Chris Evans talked with Rolling Stone about how much he loves acting but finds it difficult to deal with the public part of the job like press junkets. “It’s part of the job, I’ve got to sell this thing. But it’s just a gross feeling. It makes me insecure.”
Kristen Bell, in an interview with Off Camera with Sam Jones, spoke of her being on prescription medication for years to deal with depression and anxiety and the judgment that she sometimes receives for acknowledging that. “I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today. I have no shame in that […] But for some reason when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something. I don’t know, it’s a very interesting double standard that I don’t often have the ability to talk about, but I certainly feel no shame about.”
Colton Haynes, meanwhile, admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that his anxiety is often so crippling that he’s needed to be hospitalized for it, and it sometimes forces him to walk away from choice roles. “I’ve had terminal anxiety my entire life. Physically ill, fainting. I’m 27 years old, and I have an ulcer. I had to step back.”
All of this is part of a larger – and much-needed – conversation about mental health and ready access to therapy and medication. Or it should be. Because while I admire those celebs who speak out – these three in particular, as I am fans of all of them – it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are celebrities who deal with anxiety, depression, and other such mental health issues. It’s not as uncommon as people may believe. There are millions of people who deal every day with the same problems, and don’t have the resources of a celebrity to deal with them.
It isn’t solely about dealing with the stigma of needing therapy or medication anymore; it’s about availability and access. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 43.6 million Americans have some sort of mental illness, yet fewer than half of them are receiving treatment. For some it may be an issue of cost – they can’t afford treatment, or it isn’t covered by their insurance plans. Some may live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of options. And for some of us, it isn’t the shame of going to therapy, it’s trying to make yourself go in the first place when you don’t know where to start or what to do. It’s not the fact that we have to ask for help, it’s actually asking, because you should be able to help yourself, dammit.
It isn’t just enough to start the conversation; it’s important to advocate for change. If not by those who suffer from it, then by their friends and loved ones. Celebrities have wealth and resources most of us don’t and are, generally, better equipped to receive treatment. They also have a public platform most of us never will. As the Washington Post says, perhaps the next time we see an interview like this, it won’t just be a simple statement, it will be a demand for things to improve.
I would never ask or force someone to be a poster child for anything, but all it takes is one.
In the meantime, I hope Chris, Kristen, and Colton (and all other celebs who struggle with mental illness) understand that their health should always be a priority, and we will love them no matter what.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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